Brandon Pfaadt is considered the Arizona Diamondbacks' No. 1 pitching prospect, but it hasn't been an easy season for the 24-year-old rookie.
The 6-foot-4 right-hander is in his third tour with the Diamondbacks this year, and he is still looking for his first major league win after 11 starts. Pfaadt is 0-6 with a 6.91 ERA.
However, if Pfaadt breaks through on Friday in a rematch against San Diego Padres right-hander Seth Lugo, the Diamondbacks would have their first four-game winning streak since they won six straight games from June 6-12.
Diamondbacks pitching coach Brent Strom thinks Pfaadt is overdue.
"He's pitched a lot better since his latest return from Triple-A," Strom said recently. "The last time we sent him out, it was with an adjustment to make. We wanted him to change his positioning on the rubber to get a better angle. It seems to be working."
In five starts since Pfaadt returned from Triple-A Reno, Arizona's fifth-round pick in the 2020 draft has a 4.34 ERA, a 1.207 WHIP and a .261 opponents' batting average. When he was sent out after a disastrous two-plus-inning outing on June 29 against the Tampa Bay Rays, Pfaadt had a 9.82 ERA, a 1.870 WHIP and a .346 opponents' batting average.
On Sunday, when he was matched against Lugo in Phoenix, Pfaadt gave up three runs on nine hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Lugo (4-6, 4.16 ERA) held the Diamondbacks to two runs on six hits and no walks with four strikeouts over five innings.
The Diamondbacks rallied against the Padres' bullpen to win 5-4 in the rubber game of a three-game series. The teams began a four-game set in San Diego on Thursday, and Arizona emerged with a 3-1 win thanks to homers from Tommy Pham and Gabriel Moreno.
"We're building a little momentum," said Arizona manager Torey Lovullo, whose club has won five of its past six games after losing nine straight.
Meantime, the Padres continue to take a step back with every step forward, although manager Bob Melvin liked his club's approach against Arizona ace Zac Gallen on Thursday. Although the Padres finished with just three hits, they produced lots of hard-hit balls.
At this point of the season, though, positive signs are not enough.
"We need wins," Melvin said. "It's that simple."
The Padres have lost each of the last four games started by Lugo, the former Mets swingman who is 0-2 with a 5.64 ERA and a 1.209 WHIP during that stretch. A large part of the problem is that Lugo has given up five homers in that span and at least one home run in six straight starts after allowing just six homers in his first 12 starts.
The Padres are just 6-12 in Lugo's starts this year. Arizona is 5-6 when Pfaadt starts.
—Field Level Media